ECDPM, ECDPM Great Insights magazine, Summer 2018 (volume 7, issue 3).
Brexit is of course a negotiation, and while there are many stakeholders there are only two negotiating parties, the UK and the EU. To understand the political process in play, it is useful to see the official statements made by the parties on their negotiating positions and interests. Here we briefly summarise these, using phrasing taken directly from official documents related to international and development cooperation, trade, and external affairs. While the UK has broadly asserted the idea of an enhanced bespoke partnership with the EU on certain issues, the EU’s position has centred on treating the UK as a ‘third country’. Ways to bridge this gap will need to found, both overall and in specific policy domains. Concluding an effective, win-win deal in the Brexit negotiations is arguably the most significant task ahead. Of course this summary of official positions is not definitive, nor could it be entirely free from implicit biases. But it will give readers further context in which to consider the articles and analyses contained in this issue, with the proviso that new positions, policies, and papers will emerge during the process.
Common positions have been reached on a number of topics, with the caveat that no agreement on anything can be considered final until there is agreement on everything. In the draft withdrawal agreement (TF50, 2018a), particularly the parts in green indicate where agreement has been reached in principle. Points of agreement include the following:
A policy paper of 12 September 2017 emphasises that the UK is ‘unconditionally committed to maintaining European security’ and that ‘the UK wants to develop a new security partnership with the EU that builds on the breadth and depth of our shared interests and values, and one that goes beyond any existing third country arrangements’. Such a partnership – including on external migration, cyber security, defence, and security – could be realised, for example, through mutual consultations and information exchange (Department for Exiting the EU, 2017).
3. Regarding development, the UK has conveyed its position in several papers, presented here in reverse chronological order:
4. General positions, including the profiling of the UK as ‘Global Britain’ that can engage with a strong EU with which it continues to share values, were expressed in the Lancaster House Speech of 17 January 2017 (Prime Minister’s Office, 2017).
In a speech on 14 May 2018, High Representative Federica Mogherini said that despite Brexit, she saw ‘a European Union that is moving forward and getting stronger. After the UK referendum, many … were predicting the end of our Union. Well, we have seen, on the contrary, a relaunch of our common projects, a recommitment to our unity’. Mogherini also noted her preference for ‘a consultation mechanism with the United Kingdom to coordinate our responses to international events, our positions inside international organisations, and our actions, when our objectives align’ (EEAS, 2018).
In a 14 May 2018 speech, Chief Negotiator Barnier welcomed the UK’s commitment to Europe’s security and encouraged a mutual partnership, notably by;
(i) close and regular consultations with the UK on foreign policy,
(ii) accepting UK contributions where fit for purpose,
(iii) accepting the UK’s contribution to the research and technology projects of the European Defence Agency,
(iv) exchanging information on cyber attacks,
(v) establishing a security of information
3. Regarding development, the EU has not responded extensively to the UK’s proposals favouring flexible cooperation mechanisms, for example, through trust funds or other mechanisms. But in his 14 May speech, Chief Negotiator Barnier mentioned specifically that in the area of development, the EU would be ‘open to contributions from third countries and to local joint programming’.
The recent future EU budget proposal related to EU external action mentions no specific collaboration mechanisms with the UK, while not excluding them either (European Commission, 2018).
Barnier (2018, 14 May), ‘The future of the EU foreign, security and defence policy post Brexit’. Brussels: European Commission.
Department for Exiting the EU (2017, 12 September), ‘Foreign policy, defence and development: A future partnership paper’.
DFID (2018, 12 April), ‘International Development Secretary on UK aid: The mission for Global Britain’.
EEAS (2018), ‘Remarks by HR/VP Mogherini at the EU Institute for Security Studies event on “The future of EU foreign, security, and defence policy post Brexit“’. Brussels: European Union External Action Service.
European Commission (2018), ‘A modern budget for a Union that protects, empowers and defends: The multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027’. COM(2018) 321 final.
Future Development Instruments: A UK Perspective (2018). UK government non-paper.
HM Government (2018), ‘Technical Note: Consultation and Cooperation on External Security’.
Prime Minister’s Office (2017, 17 January), ‘The government’s negotiating objectives for exiting the EU: PM speech’.
Prime Minister’s Office (2018, 17 February), ‘PM speech at Munich Security Conference: 17 February 2018’.
Published in Great Insights Volume 7, Issue 3. Summer 2018